Soon a Lawrence City Commission meeting and the Super Bowl will have something in common: They’ll both be in high-definition and broadcast across the globe.
Crews currently are working to complete a $100,000 project to install at City Hall high definition cameras and technology that will allow the commission’s weekly meetings to be broadcast live over the Internet.
“We just decided it was time to do a complete technology upgrade,” said Megan Gilliland, communications manager for the city. “The room hasn’t had any significant upgrades since the early 1990s.”
The project includes installing five remote-controlled, high-definition cameras in the ceiling of the City Commission meeting room. The cameras will be controlled from a new booth that city crews recently built along the north wall of the meeting room.
Currently a crew from local cable provider Knology films the meetings with one camera from the corner of the room. The five-camera system, Gilliland said, will allow the broadcast to more easily switch among various speakers at the meeting. The system also includes a graphics program that will allow names of speakers to be shown on the screen.
But Gilliland said one of the bigger improvements is the new system will allow the weekly commission meetings to be broadcast live on the city’s website. Currently, the only way to watch the meetings live is on Channel 25, the city’s channel on the Knology system.
“We are so grateful to how Knology has provided the service of filming our meetings, but we are getting questions from people who want to watch the meetings but don’t have cable,” Gilliland said.
The broadcast of the meetings on Channel 25 will continue, and Gilliland said the new system will more easily allow the city to run replays of the meetings on Channel 25. The changes, however, mean city employees will be responsible for filming the meeting. Gilliland said she is creating an internship program with Kansas University to get film students to produce the broadcasts.
The cameras likely will not be the most noticeable addition to the City Commission chambers. The project also includes installing two 70-inch flat panel monitors and one 80-inch flat panel monitor that will be used to display documents, images, video clips and other information presented at the meetings.
The system also includes equipment that is expected to improve the sound quality for commissioners and audience members in the room. Recently, several meetings have had sound issues where various microphones have been unusable.
Gilliland said she hopes to begin broadcasting with the new equipment by late September.